TACLOBAN CITY – The historic town of Limasawa, Southern Leyte has prohibited the entry of tourists for 10 days to prevent overcrowding in events related to the 500th anniversary of the First Mass in the country on March 31, the local government announced on Wednesday.
In an advisory, Limasawa Mayor Melchor Petracorta said tourists are banned in their island town from March 22 to 31. Only pilgrims, whose names are included in the master list approved by the provincial government will be allowed to set foot.
The local government also prohibits the entry of privately-owned motorcycles from the mainland during the period to avoid traffic congestion during the celebration.
Boats without government registration are not allowed to ferry pilgrims to and from the town.
“All boats must dock at the designated ports to ensure proper monitoring,” Petracorta said in an advisory released through the town’s official social media page.
On March 31, the town will celebrate the First Mass in the Philippines and Asia when the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan set foot on the island 500 years ago.
The mass, which falls on Easter Sunday, will be celebrated by Father Pedro de Valderrama.
This year is not only momentous as it is the quincentennial celebration, but also due to the recent decision released by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines that Limasawa was indeed the site of the First Mass ending the decade-long dispute of identifying its original location being contested by Butuan City in Agusan Del Norte.
The decision is also supported by the Church Historian’s Association of the Philippines (CHAP) through a statement issued on March 16.
To celebrate the First Easter Sunday Mass, the Catholic Church Diocese of Maasin has lined up several activities starting March 22.
One of the highlights is the enshrinement of the Señor Santo Niño de Limasawa at the Triana Parish to be led by the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown.
He will also lead the mass and will join in the program and launch of the 500 Years of Christianity year-long activities at the town’s Magallanes Shrine. (PNA)